Remember the three 'Ps' when planning a western hunting trip


Both my friends know I am obsessed with hunting out West – from turkeys in Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming, to bow hunting elk, mule deer, bear and grouse in Colorado and New Mexico. (Note here: I couldn't hit one in flight with a bow to save my life, but grouse are pretty dumb, and they'll sit there on the ground and wait till you can stick one with an arrow.)

Now I am a man of modest means (as in “poor”), and I simply don't have the cash to shuck out on expensive guided hunts or for trespass fees in the aforementioned five states. Guided hunts, or paying enormous fees to hunt private property are both well out of my reach. So, how do I do it?

The answer is quite simple. If you've been dreaming of an out-of-state hunting, fishing or camping excursion, but don't see how you can afford it, think again. Most of you can, indeed, afford at least to take a DIY (do-it-yourself) trip. All you gotta do is follow my three Ps – Parsimonious, Prioritization and Planning.

Gotcha! I bet both my readers had to look up the meaning of “parsimonious.” Admittedly, so did I, and it means being “frugal” or “stingy.” No, I don't mean to be ugly to others, I mean to be stingy to yourself. All you have to do is be a tightwad throughout the year, maybe even two or three, in order to make your dream become reality. Regardless, if you want it bad enough, YOU CAN DO IT.

Secondly, you MUST prioritize. Determine whether the hunting, fishing or camping trip is worth the sacrifice. That could mean drinking fewer adult beverages, taking fewer trips to the golf course or simply spending less on other non-essential items (synonymous with “parsimonious,” actually). In the end, if the sacrifices are worth it to you, and all is good on the home front, then start planning.

Once you've decided on your dream hunting/fishing/camping trip, start planning today, not tomorrow. The first thing you must ask yourself is whether you are going all by your lonesome, or with friends and family. Unless you're a real hermit, I strongly suggest asking friends and family. Otherwise, who will help you clean all the fish you catch, or help drag out the deer you kill, or sit around a campfire with you and tell lies?

Ascertain exactly what your destination will be, then get all the information you can about the area. You'll be on public land for the most part, so obtain all the maps and other info available. Of course you'll want to check into licensing if your intentions are to hunt or fish.

What I did on my first-ever DIY bow hunt for elk in Colorado was round up a half-dozen friends with likewise ambitions. It was a good thing I found that many hunters, too, because one of the two trucks necessary to accommodate that many folks broke down. Were it not for a second truck, I still may be stuck on the mountain in Colorado. With two trucks, however, we got the repairs made and split the cost. All's well that ends well, and not one person was out a lot of pocket money. Splitting expenses makes it easier on everybody, of course.

I've always been a big believer in not buying what you can borrow, especially on my earliest elk hunting trips out West. I had no 4-wheeler, so I borrowed one from Scott Haigler, a customer of mine at the time. Eventually, I bought a used wheeler, but before I did, Scott invited himself. Heck, I didn't even know the boy bow hunted at the time, but since then we've spent many a pleasurable hunt in both Colorado and Oklahoma, as well as turkey hunting in Kansas. So don't forget your friends … and hopefully they won't forget you.

Just remember, if you're on a budget, as most of us are, do everything you can think of to save money – from freezing blocks of ice to freezing leftover meals to be thawed out at camp. Oh, that reminds me, every time we'd pass a snowbank in Colorado, we'd fill up our ice chests. Talk about tightwads!

I could go on and on boring both my readers to tears, as well as my editor, Camal Petro, but I reckon I'll spare you and save all that for both my friends while sitting around a roaring campfire this fall and having a cold one – soft drink, that is. But an important thing, maybe THE most important thing, I have learned from hard-earned DIY trips is that I actually seem to enjoy and appreciate them even more than having all the luxuries of home. Oh well, each to his or her own...

Regardless of how you make your dream hunt or fishing trip, whether roughing it or with all the perks, be safe, have fun and always take a kid with you … every time you can.

PineBelt News outdoor writer Phil DiFatta can be reached at Readers may also text announcements and photos, with contact info, to 601-596-4475.